There are vampires in your house. Not the hipster Twilight kind, or even the fang-toothed Dracula kind. I’m talking about energy vampires that are sucking away your ability to live a long and comfortable life.
I’ll bet there’s one in the room with you right now. These energy vampires have latched on to your electrical outlets and spend 24 hours a day slowly sucking up expensive electricity. Although you can’t see them or hear them, they are almost entirely responsible for that nauseous feeling you get every time you view a new utility bill. And you’re helping them.
Vampire energy use — also known as standby power, vampire power, and phantom load — occurs when a device remains plugged into the wall. Any gadget or appliance that has an illuminated display (think coffee pot or electric oven) or a solid or blinking light (think television, printer, microwave, etc.) is consuming energy even when the device itself is not in use or is turned off. It’s just a tiny bit of energy, but over the weeks, months and years, it adds up to a lot.
According to a recent report [PDF] from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, there are “more than 2 billion devices such as TVs, computers, ceiling fans, elevators, ice-makers and MRI machines commonly found in US homes and businesses that consume $70 billion in energy each year, more than many large countries use to power their entire economies.”
Image via Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Wish fewer of those dollars were being drained from your bank account? The quick and dirty fix it to unplug stuff when you’re not using it. No connection to the wall = vampire vanquished.
But I understand that there are lots of appliances that are difficult/impossible to unplug, or that lose some of their functionality when disconnected from a power source (like missing that rerun of Twilight because your DVR is unplugged).
Thankfully, there are other options. The gadgets listed below all work in different ways to tell you which appliances are draining the most power or block vampire energy use when the device isn’t in use. Happy vampire hunting!
1. Mini Power Minder from BITS Limited
This two-outlet energy-saving powerstrip is perfect for your home office area. It features a Master-Slave control function that allows you to control the power on/off of the power strip remotely using your computer’s main power switch. It also provides complete protection from power surges, spikes and reduction of RFI to your computer and peripherals. No more crawling around on the floor! Computer powered down? Energy draw is over. $19.95
Just like electricity, we humans like to take the path of least resistance, especially when it comes to new behaviors. The OnPlug lacks all the confusing, not to mention expensive, bells and whistles of some other energy-saving devices and just delivers what you want: the ability to cease power drain without necessarily plugging and unplugging every single device in the house. “An on/off switch allows current to flow – or not to flow – through the OnPlug and into the device. When that switch is in the On position and power is going to a device that isn’t in use, an LED on the OnPlug will alert users that it should be turned turned off,” reports Gizmag. Best of all? It costs less than $5.
3. Plug-In Energy Monitor from Trickle Star
This ones for all the skeptics out there. Find it hard to believe that your sleeping devices cost you that much money in wasted energy? This gadget makes it easy to watch and track your electricity usage and see the impacts or benefits when you change your electricity usage behavior. Plug the monitor into an outlet and then plug any device into the monitor. You’ll instantly be able to see energy consumption in watts, cost, CO2 as well as a projection of KWH, cost, and CO2 emissions by day/month/year. $29.95
4. WattStopper Isolé IDP-3050
Can’t even be bothered to flip the switch on your outlet power monitors? The WattStopper ensures that you don’t have to go out of your way to vanquish energy vampires. This gadget “consists of an eight-outlet power strip with surge protection and a personal occupancy sensor that utilizes passive infrared (PIR) technology. When the sensor detects occupancy, it turns on controlled outlets. When the space becomes vacant, the sensor turns off these outlets automatically after the preset time delay expires.” $25
5. UFO Power Center by Visible Energy
We’re talking about vanquishing vampires so why not bring in the aliens? This device works like a regular four-socket power strip. But the energy used by each socket is measured separately and automatically logged.”You assign ‘roles’ to each socket so the device knows to shut down power when connected devices are not in use. What’s more, the EnergyUFO app tells you the real-time energy cost of the devices plugged into it, and allows you to turn them off from your phone.” $93
Image via Thinkstock